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Ralph Reed’s gambling riches

TAPPED brings us this Roll Call article on Ralph Reed and the millions he’s been given to pimp casino gambling by a disgraced lobbyist.

Reed was paid more than $3.8 million during a yearlong period in 2001 and 2002 by Michael Scanlon, a former aide to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), according to documents obtained by Roll Call.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee has scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 14 to begin reviewing the activities of Scanlon and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who together were paid in excess of $45 million by four American Indian tribes for lobbying, public relations and grassroots organizing from 2001 to 2003. Congressional and federal investigators, as well as some members of the tribes themselves, are now asking what the two did to merit such exorbitant fees.


The payments to Reed from Scanlon were made to two Georgia-based companies that Reed operates, Century Strategies and Capitol Media, and covered a mix of grassroots organizing and media buys. Reed kept his involvement in these efforts private and has never registered as a lobbyist for any of the four tribes or any other clients.

Reed, now a corporate consultant, was chairman of the Georgia Republican Party from May 2001 until February 2003 and served as executive director of the Christian Coalition from 1989 to 1997. Reed is currently the chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign for the Southeast region.

In the past, Reed, who has called gambling “a cancer on the American body politic,” has said he has done no work for casino clients.

In an interview last week, Reed reiterated that he has never been employed by any casino operator, including Indian tribes.

“I’ve worked for decades to oppose the expansion of casino gambling, and the work Century Strategies did on these projects was consistent with that longstanding opposition,” said Reed. “The work that we did was part of a broad coalition that included anti-gambling groups, churches and nonprofit organizations. And at no time did my firm have a relationship with nor were we retained by any casino or any casino company.”

Scanlon, however, was working for four different Indian tribes with casinos, and Reed was brought in on a number of projects to gin up opposition to increasing the number of casinos from conservative Christian groups, including sites proposed by rival tribes in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as a video poker initiative in Alabama. Reed’s efforts specifically benefited two of Scanlon’s tribal clients, the Louisiana Coushattas and the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, in their bids to protect their casino interests.


Reed’s involvement with Scanlon began in early 2001 as the Louisiana Coushattas sought to prevent state officials from granting more licenses for riverboat casinos in the Lake Charles region, seeing it as a threat to the Grand Casino Coushatta, the largest casino in the area.

Reed also took part in a later effort by the Louisiana Coushattas to shut down a casino outside Houston opened by the Alabama-Coushattas, a rival tribe. Texans are a big part of the customer base for Bayou State casinos.

While anti-gambling forces launched a widespread campaign in the Lone Star State, Reed worked to build support for a lawsuit filed by then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn (R) against the Alabama Coushattas and another tribe that had opened their own casino. A federal judge eventually closed both casinos in July 2002.

In addition, Reed sought to block legislation allowing video poker machines with unlimited cash payouts at four Alabama dog tracks in 2001. The proposal was rejected by the state legislature, thanks in part to political pressure from religious groups like the Christian Coalition of Alabama.

So Scanlon paid Reed to organize grassroots opposition to certain casinos on behalf of their rivals. It’s like being paid by Anheuser-Busch to rabblerouse against the evils of alcohol for the purpose of torpedoing a Miller brewery. And all to a man who calls gambling a “cancer” on society.

“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” — Luke, Chapter 16, Verse 13.

You can find some more background on the Abramoff/Scanlon story here, here, here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE: Via Julia, Reed has confirmed taking money from Greenberg Traurig, the consulting firm for whom Scanlon and Abramoff worked, but claims he had no idea that he was representing gambling interests with one hand while agitating against gambling with the other.

Ralph Reed, Southeast regional chairman of the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign and former executive director of the Christian Coalition, confirmed on Sunday that he accepted more than $1 million in fees from a lobbyist and a public relations specialist whose work on behalf of American Indian casinos prompted a federal investigation.


Scanlon’s company paid Reed $1.23 million, according to sources familiar with the transactions. The two law firms Abramoff worked for, Greenberg Traurig LLP and Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds LLP, paid fees to Reed and Century Strategies, but the amounts were not immediately available.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Reed said: “I have worked for decades to oppose the expansion of casino gambling, and as a result of that, Century Strategies has worked with broad coalitions to oppose casino expansion. We are proud of the work we have done. It is consistent not only with my beliefs but with the beliefs of the grassroots citizens that we mobilized. And at no time was Century Strategy ever retained by, or worked on behalf of, any casino or casino company.”

Asked if he had been aware of the clients paying Abramoff and Scanlon, Reed said, “While we were clearly aware that Greenberg Traurig had certain tribal clients, we were not aware of every specific client or interest.”

Wow, that’s weak. Stay tuned.

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  1. Linkmeister says:

    Yeah, if a client had paid me over a million bucks I think I’d know just what it was I’d done to earn it. Bill Bennett redux, one hopes.

  2. What’s got your panties in a bunch? Sounds like a dream situation to me.

    It’s not a perfect analogy, but it would be like some social conservatives giving you money to elect Kerry because they were upset with Bush. Would you turn down the work and money?

    If I opposed gambling, I would feel very comfortable (hell! I’d feel overjoyed!) doing what Reed did.

  3. hypocrit coalition says:

    This needs to be brought more to the publics attention, being allection time. When this is all said and done ,IF INVESTIGATED PROPERLY, we will find BUSHY is involved also. I am neither for nor against gambling, to each his own. I AM AGAINST HYPOCRITS like REED using relgion TO MAKE HIMSELF MONEY!!!!

  4. […] honcho Ralph Reed and Tom DeLay’s felonious friend Jack Abramoff. Here’s some previous blogging on the subject, plus a couple of corrected links to Observer articles to give you the […]